THE City of Greater Geelong has voted to revoke its on-street parking fee hikes which saw prices increase by up to 124 per cent without warning.
Councillors were called to a special meeting at City Hall last Thursday following widespread public scrutiny, with many of those affected noting the city did not engage in community consultation before more than doubling the cost of parking in some areas of the CBD.
The COGG was also criticised for failing to disclose the changes in its 2019-20 budget. During the special meeting, councillor Eddy Kontelj said council was as “blindsided” by the fee increase as the community.
“We accept that it seems like the error that’s occurred has certainly been non-intentional, but this failing in our system, we must identify it, and we must resolve it,” Cr Kontelj said.
He also said the error has “tainted” the good work council has done in making on-street parking more affordable, including council’s decision to trial 30-minute free parking come December.
Cr Jim Mason AM said he was “significantly embarrassed” by the situation, while Cr Aitken said overturning the new fees should help to “restore the community’s confidence” in COGG’s chief executive officer Martin Cutter and the elected representatives.
Cr Aitken said he was not interested in naming scapegoats, but rather wanted to focus his attention on making sure the mistake “never occurs again”.
The following changes came into effect on Monday:
• capped all-day on-street parking from $13 back to $5.80
• 3-hour parking capped from $7 back to $5.80
• 4-hour parking capped from $8 back to $3.50 and
• 4-hour parking capped (high occupancy) from $9 back to $5.80
Mayor Bruce Harwood offered his apologies at the meeting before inviting questions from the public.
City officers have been instructed to review all budgeted 2019-20 fees and charges as well as any other “significant increases” not included in the budget consultation process to prevent further upset.